August 14, 2007 By Wayne Hanson
The Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (MiNATOA) yesterday released a statement saying that Comcast Communications is now "severely restricting the complimentary cable service it now provides to police and fire stations in Michigan."
According to a recent letter from Comcast, said MiNATOA, "state legislators saw fit to fundamentally alter video service providers' complimentary service obligations across the state.
"Apparently," continued MiNATOA, "the cable giant was referencing a new, sweeping state law which essentially deregulated cable service in Michigan. The new statute allows cable operators to ignore many of their existing contractual commitments to local communities, including ongoing obligations to provide cable service to police and fire stations."
"Comcast really missed the mark on this one," said Larry Stoever, city manager for the city of Saline, Mich. "In a local government setting, cable service means more than video programming. For example, local governments can use cable as a distance learning tool so police and fire personnel can remain on call at their home station rather than travel to another location for training. It's also a good way to keep local police and fire stations informed about regional and state-wide emergencies."
MiNATOA said that Comcast will continue to provide service to one police station and one fire station in each community. But according to Carl Solden, supervisor for Waterford Township, Mich., "Even many small- to mid-size communities have more than one fire station. Can Comcast really decide that one police or fire station is more important than any other?"
Comcast did not reply to an e-mail query by press time.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.